The Movie Waffler SXSW 2022 Review - SPIN ME ROUND | The Movie Waffler

SXSW 2022 Review - SPIN ME ROUND

spin me round review
A restaurant chain branch manager uncovers a conspiracy at the franchise's Italian headquarters.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Alessandro Nivola, Molly Shannon, Lil Rel Howery, Tim Heidecker, Ben Sinclair

With Spin Me Round, writer/director Jeff Baena reteams with his regular collaborators Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza for a knockabout comedy that plays like Manhattan Murder Mystery made by a fan of Italian exploitation cinema.

spin me round review

Brie, who co-writes, plays Amber, the manager of a California branch of Tuscan Grove, a chain of restaurants that purports to bring the Italian dining experience to hungry Americans. Never having left the US, Amber is thrilled when she's selected to join several other branch managers on a trip to the company's HQ in Italy.

Once Amber arrives, she immediately gets swept up in her perceived romance of Europe and ignores some obvious warning signs like how a Tuscan Grove lackey insists on taking his guests' passports away until the trip is over. Like any of these corporate getaways, the attendees are forced to adhere to a rigid roster of activities, most of which see them stuck in the dull surrounds of the company offices with little chance to see what Italy has to offer.

spin me round review

That changes when the company's owner, the handsome Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola), pays a visit to his guests and is immediately stricken by Amber. Invited for a day on his yacht, Amber is instantly seduced. Once again, she overlooks some red flags, like how Nick constantly talks about his dead sister and how his assistant, Kat (Plaza), makes Amber swear not to mention her tryst with Nick to anyone else.

Spin Me Round begins in familiar American rom-com territory, with Brie, Plaza and a supporting cast of familiar comic faces all providing some minor laughs. It's when the mystery element kicks in that Baena's film takes a more interesting turn. With a score by the great Pino Donaggio (perhaps his best in many a year) that recalls the '70s lounge craze and the use of tracks by Goblin and The Alan Parsons Project, a distinct giallo vibe begins to form around the edges of the comedy, leading to a madcap climax involving masked swingers and rampaging wild boars.

spin me round review

As is usually the case with such mainstream American comedies, some of the improv numbers are stretched thin and the supporting cast are at times a little too wacky in comparison with the film's leads. Brie, Plaza and Nivola are all on fine form, and the film really comes alive in a sequence that sees Plaza's Kat abduct Brie's Amber for a night on the town. For 10 minutes the movie morphs into an energetic lesbian cousin of Call Me by Your Name, but Plaza practically disappears from the narrative immediately after, and her absence is severely felt.

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